Shannon Tavarez was performing as the young Nala in The Lion King on Broadway when her legs mysteriously started to hurt. The pain made walking – not to mention dancing – difficult. In April came the devastating diagnosis: At age 11, she had an acute form of leukemia.
The news “really hit me hard,” says Tavarez.
Her struggle also struck a chord with Alicia Keys and Rihanna. The singers, who both started their careers when they were young, decided to help get the word out that Tavarez needs a bone marrow transplant to live. [...]
“[Tavarez] should be performing on Broadway, but is confined to her bed, fighting for her life,” Rihanna tells PEOPLE. “She needs to find a bone marrow donor to survive. I urge all my fans to register [as donors]. It’s the most beautiful thing someone could do, to give the gift of life.”